Congress looks at long-term care insurance program

Senators Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Mike DeWine (R-Ohio) have prepared legislation that would create a national insurance program to provide long-term care for the elderly and disabled.

According to Hearst Newspapers, an estimated 10 million Americans are unable to perform daily activities such as bathing, eating, dressing or moving in and out of their homes without help, usually because of age, disease or intellectual impairment.

Many of these people exhaust family finances, get assistance from relatives, move prematurely to nursing homes or impoverish themselves to qualify for Medicaid.

And the problem will become worse in the next decade when Baby Boomers retire and become more at risk.

Long-term care often is provided in nursing homes through Medicaid, but it is also offered by personal assistants that go into the home or workplace to help with day-to-day needs, reported Judy Holland with Hearts Newspapers.

Medicare, the federal health insurance program for the elderly and disabled, covers some nursing home and home health care, but it is limited to a short period of time.

The Kenneday-DeWine plan, known as the Community Living Assistance Services and Support Act would let Americans opt to have the federal government withhold $30 a month in premiums from their paychecks.

After paying into the system five years, a person who becomes unable to perform more than two fundamental daily activities such as bathing, dressing or eating, would qualify for benefits of $1,500 to $3,000 a month.

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